What is a Metropolitan Planning Organization?

A metropolitan planning organization (MPO) is a transportation policy-making body consisting of representatives from local, state and federal governments, transit agencies, transportation providers and other stakeholders.  Federal law requires all urbanized areas with populations greater than 50,000 to designate an MPO to conduct transportation planning activities.  Federal funding for transportation projects and programs are channeled through this planning process.

What does the MPO do?

MPOs work to ensure that expenditures on transportation projects and programs are based on local priorities and mutually agreed upon goals.  MPOs use a comprehensive, cooperative, and continuing (3-C) planning process to accomplish this which includes:

    • Consideration of all possible transportation strategies;
    • An evaluation process that encompasses diverse viewpoints;
    • Collaborative participation from relevant transportation-related agencies and organizations;
    • Open, timely, and meaningful public involvement;
    • Monitoring existing conditions;
    • Forecasting future conditions;
    • Identifying current and projected future problems and needs;
    • Defining various improvement strategies to address transportation needs;
    • Developing long-range and short-range capital and operational plans and strategies for moving people and goods;
    • Estimating the impact of strategies/improvements to the transportation system and environment, including air quality;
    • Developing a financial plan for securing sufficient revenues to cover the cost of implementing strategies

The MPO is responsible for four major transportation planning programs and plans that guide the work of the MPO, establish the long range transportation plan for the region and program fedreal and other transportation funds to implement the plan.  This work is outlined in the the four major products of the MPO including:

2040 Metropolitan Transportation Plan

The Metropolitan Transportation Plan outlines regional transportation goals, strategies, projects and programs intended for future transportation funding over the next 20+ years.


Transportation Improvement Program 

The TIP is a list of programs and projects that transportation funds will be allocated to in the near-term (4 years).   The TIP is how the 2040 MTP is implemented.


Unified Planning Work Program

The annual UPWP describes the transportation planning activities and tasks that will be completed for the MPO area during the current fiscal year.


Participation Plan

The Participation Plan outlines the MPO’s public engagement process in more detail. It describes how the MPO is committed to disseminating information to the public and to stakeholders and by what means the MPO will involve them in the planning process.


Congestion Management Process

The Congestion Management Process Overview Document outlines the MPO’s Congestion Management Process (CMP) and the integrated relationship among the congestion management process, the Transportation Improvement Program, and the Metropolitan Transportation Plan.

Who is the MPO?

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Professional planners make up the core of the MPO staff. Our Staff conducts research and analyzes current transportation trends including congestion, air quality, regional travel patterns, population and employment growth, safety issues, and rates of bicycling, walking and transit ridership to help inform decision-makers and the transportation planning process. The MPO staff also helps implement the recommendations in our planning documents including efforts to expand our bicycling and pedestrian networks, increasing transit ridership and carpooling, reducing congestion, and improving safety and air quality.

MPO Organization Chart 2015

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The MPO functions under a committee structure that includes a decision-making Transportation Policy Committee (TPC), several technical committees and technical staff (see chart on right). The Lexington Area MPO's Prospectus outlines the organization and structure of the MPO.  The Planning Agreement details the responsibilities, cooperation and coordination between the Lexington Area MPO and federal, state and local agencies.